Can anonymous Askers mark best answers? October 24, 2005 8:59 AM   Subscribe

Can anonymous Askers mark best answers? If not, can we get this feature added to the planned anonymous enhancements?
posted by Mitheral to Feature Requests at 8:59 AM (20 comments total)


It seems like an okay idea to me.
posted by cortex at 10:23 AM on October 24, 2005

*1000 anonymous Askers whisper "Me too"*
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:37 AM on October 24, 2005

They can always sign in and say in a really fake voice "that's a great idea!"
posted by allen.spaulding at 10:49 AM on October 24, 2005

Nope, can't do it. To protect an asker's anonymity, I don't keep track of anything in the database linking a question to a user, so I currently have no way of knowing who asked what except for one tiny indicator that only I see at the moment someone asks a question. I'd have to restructure the whole thing to make this possible, which I might do in the future if security isn't an utmost concern.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 10:49 AM on October 24, 2005

One way of of making this work (and could also be used for anonymous followup comments) that wouldn't compromise anonymity might be:

1. When a user submits an anonymous question, he must also include a secret password (not his Mefi password).

2. This new password and the user's id are turned into a single md5 hash and stored in the database along with the question. (the password nor the userid are stored, only the hash).

3. When someone wishes to mark an anonymous best-answer or add a comment, he must also enter the secret password. Again, this is combined with the user's id, hashed, and compared with the hash in the database. If it's a match, the comment or best-answer flagging goes though.
posted by 4easypayments at 11:16 AM on October 24, 2005

Since I have next to zero understanding of software I cannot say whether or not my suggestion was covered by Matt's post.
Not that I'd let that stop me.

In any case, I don't suppose it would be as simple as making it possible for anonymous questioners to check/uncheck a box indicating that they are willing to trade a certain amount of security for the ability to mark the best answers? (And then implementing a database field linking the question to a specific account and allowing them mark a best answer.)

I imagine some users would be willing to take the trade-off if they were given a clear and obvious choice.
posted by oddman at 11:24 AM on October 24, 2005

Matt, couldn't you create a user account called "Anonymous Followup" or something to that affect and setup an automatic e-mail response that send the password of that account to whomever is posting an anonymous question?

Every couple of days the password is reset to something different, therefore leaving enough time for anonymous feedback but not too much time that might invite abuse.

Of course, you run the risk that people might anonymously respond in a question that isn't theirs, but considering how well the anonymous system seems to have worked so far, I doubt that people would want to ruin the experience for everyone. therefore policing themselves.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 11:30 AM on October 24, 2005

Crap, I'm answering a question that wasn't asked with another question, but nevertheless, could it be done?
posted by SeizeTheDay at 11:31 AM on October 24, 2005

SeizeTheDay, several anon questions get asked each day, so having a shared password wouldn't work too well, and changing it would create problems for other question askers.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 11:49 AM on October 24, 2005

I'd be willing to live without this for the sake of anonymity.
posted by scarabic at 12:29 PM on October 24, 2005

When a user submits an question, they are given a number that consists of the date of submission and a random 7 digit number 14-11-05-24732. They can then email from a throwaway address, with that number as authentication and a list of the best comments.
posted by Gyan at 12:42 PM on October 24, 2005

mathowie writes "I don't keep track of anything in the database linking a question to a user,"

Ah, fundemental misunderstanding of the process on my part.

Oddman's solution seems workable if it could be automated. Instead of a single anonymous user a script could create one for each question (eg: anon000000001, anon000000002 or anon+AskMe Thread #) kind of like how worked. Whatever randomness for passwords. As long as the only thread the anon accounts could interact with was the one that originally created it abuse would be minimal I'd think.

1) you review the anonymous question and approve it.
2) the script fires which creates the ask me post, generates the an userID, creates a pseudo random password, emails the asker's registered email address the userID and PW, and sets a flag in the database controlling posting ability to the single thread. The last part seems to be the hard bit.

You still wouldn't need knowledge of the questioners actual id, if someone gets out of line you could just delete the question.
posted by Mitheral at 1:18 PM on October 24, 2005

I suggest that when an anonymous post is made, the user specifies a password that they can later use to prove that they are the user who posted that thread. Alternatively, the site could generate the password using an MD5 hash of, say, the thread ID and a site-specific salt. Later, the anonymous user could enter this (thread-specific) password to enter replies and mark best answers, without ever actually having to reveal their identity.
posted by kindall at 1:22 PM on October 24, 2005

What about leaving a cookie, which sits on the anonymous poster's computer, identifying that browser to that question only. This cookie lives there until:
  1. The poster chooses to delete the cookie (manually [deleting the cookie file] or by a link on the site)
  2. The poster selects a best answer/answers
  3. The thread is closed by expiry/Matt

posted by armoured-ant at 1:23 PM on October 24, 2005

Keep anonymous anonymous. No best answers.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:52 PM on October 24, 2005 [1 favorite]

Lots of work for not much benefit.
posted by smackfu at 2:12 PM on October 24, 2005

Yeah, I dig the clever suggestions but I'm starting to see it as a lot of effort for a system that isn't really necessary. I'd say the point at which someone needs to ask a question here anonymously could reasonably be the point at which we stop worrying about best answers and so forth. A potential anonymite who feels otherwise can always do the $5 shuffle and let It's Raining Gertrude Stein ask the question and moderate the thread.
posted by cortex at 3:03 PM on October 24, 2005

posted by TwelveTwo at 10:06 PM on October 24, 2005

Please keep it anonymous. I don't want anyone to know that I'm a fat, constipated, hemorrhoid-ridden, emotionally repressed, sex-crazed, cheating, alcoholic, book-writing capital-gaining sex-blogging seductress , okay?
posted by louigi at 11:04 PM on October 24, 2005

I Nth the "not worth the effort" sentiment. Quite frankly I rarely find 'best answer' worth it at all; so many questions are predicated on a lack of knowledge by the questioner that means they're not qualified to pick a best answer. Someone who doesn't know anything about cars asking about how to handle a problem, or me asking about normal human emotions, etc. Other questions seem best served by ongoing debate and suggestions.

I'd be far more interested in some way to tag questions I'm interested in for their own list indicating how many new comments there are.
posted by phearlez at 10:44 AM on October 25, 2005

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